I don't own BtVS, nor do I own Sluggy Freelance. If I did, I'd actually have money. Instead of money, I seem to have a plot bunny. So now I'm passing it on.
None whatsoever for BtVS, because its set before Buffy herself was even born. However some spoilers for Sluggy since it references characters from it, and I lifted a few lines directly from the comic for accuracy.
Author's Note :
First things first, I wish to give an apology to any people who read the previous chapter before I posted this one. I had accidentally marked it as complete, when it obviously wasn't. I just wanted to give a heartfelt apology for that mistake.
To make much sense of what happens in this fic, you should read a bit of Sluggy Freelance first, from the beginning up to October 28th to cover the storyline; though this chapter was floating around on the back burner a really nice review changed my mind on when I'd write it. Hope you enjoy, and apologies again for the miscommunication with 'completed/incomplete'.
I would also like to apologise on how long it took me to finish this, I wrote it relatively fast but got completely bogged down in the edit. Oops.
Bunny of Pain
Zoe stumbled a little as her toe caught on a rocky protrusion, causing her wounds to scream in protest. Biting back an curse, she continued on her way back to her apartment to get some band-aids, antiseptic and a large gun. Normally she was quite a nice person, easy going to all creatures. But there's only so much a girl can take before she crosses that line.
Psychotic bunnies do it for her every time.
There she was, sitting in the park, enjoying a beautiful day outside, when she noticed a sweet and fluffy rabbit sitting next to her. She goes to pet it and what happens? It bloody well pulls a switchblade and proceeds to…
Here she broke off her inner monologue to shudder as she recalled the painfully long minutes that seemed to drag on as the mini-lop took out its frustrations on her (apparently she had sat in its favourite spot), before hopping off somewhere. Eventually she had regained consciousness, and had just been getting back to her feet, when what should happen? A horde of rampaging nutters chasing a frisbee trampled her aching body into the dirt.
Then just to cap it all off, as she lay there, unable to move, she heard an unpleasantly familiar 'Ka-Klick' noise from beside her head and the rabbit-whispered words 'Guess I didn't make myself clear the first time. Prepare to die'.
She really shouldn't have let the phrase 'at least it can't get any worse' cross her mind.
She wasn't sure how long she had been unconscious, but when she finally awoke the sun was significantly further across the sky, and the neolithic jerks had all cleared off. Most importantly, the fluffy ball of destruction was not sitting nearby, waiting for her to awaken just so it could go another round of 'torture by bunny'. So it wasn't as bad as it could have been.
Stiffly rising to her feet, trying to ignore the shooting pains in her body, she staggered off in the direction of home.
"So what is it?"
The shade wearing technological genius known as Riff sighed softly to himself and buried his hands in the voluminous pockets of his ever-so-cool trenchcoat, and turned to the less cool, less intelligent, less savvy… his friend Torg, who was currently poking his most recent invention with a finger.
"It's a dimensional flux agitator, it opens portals in the fabric of space and time, it lets you move between dimensions. Like I told you, when you asked me. Five minutes ago."
Torg stopped with the prodding of the delicate piece of technology and turned to look at his friend with an expression of curiosity on his face.
"And why did you think it was a good idea to build this?"
Riff didn't say a word, he merely turned and Looked expressively at the small white rabbit nibbling on a small pile of alfalfa. He then turned back to the now grinning Torg.
Outside the park…
Staggering slightly as one of her bruises twinged, Zoe walked along the pavement in the direction of home. To anyone watching, a pretty girl was hobbling along the pavement after being assaulted; but if asked she would assure them she was fine and fit as a fiddle.
So there she was, meandering along the path back to her place, muttering dark imprecations about a certain fluffy critter, when suddenly she felt the air shift around her. Looking around in confusion, she saw the air rippling, and even as she watched it seemed to bulge out as if something was trying to push through. Moments later, something did.
Whatever came through however, went unnoticed by Zoe, for when the air split a small shockwave erupted from the focal point and knocked her to the ground in an untidy sprawl. Which she was very unhappy about, since it caused every wound to flare up at the same time.
Laid out on the ground, reeling from pain, she was surprised when she felt something poke her in the shoulder. Turning her head she found a girl who looked no more than seventeen, a strange yet alluring pendant hanging around her neck, standing over Zoe with an inquisitive look on her face.
"Why are you sitting on the ground? Is there something wrong with your feet? What's wrong with your clothes? Why are they all ripped?"
Stunned by the barrage of questions, it took Zoe a moment to regain her equilibrium and begin to answer.
"I'm on the ground because something knocked me over, there's nothing wrong with my feet, and my clothes got torn up when that bloody animal attacked me because I was sitting in his seat."
Zoe looked up at the hopeful tone of the girl's voice, to find an almost eager look on the stranger's face.
"… Yeah. Why? Is that important?"
Ignoring the questions, the girl instead asked one of her own.
"If you had any one wish, what would you do to him?"
"Riff? Riff? RIFF!"
Ignoring Torg's exasperated sigh, Riff turned his attention to his friend.
It had been postulated – though not, it is true, by Torg – that the reason for Riff's ubiquitous sunglasses was to save himself going blind from constant exposure to Torg's unique fashion sense.
"Riff, I've been asking you for the last ten minutes straight, what went wrong? All you've been doing is staring at the computer. Come on man, give me some answers!"
Riff's eyes looked through Torg as he continued to run the math, then shook his head to clear the daze. Meeting his buddy's gaze, he frowned.
"I don't get it. I activated the agitator, directing the beam at…" his eyes slid over the hopefully unaware rabbit, "the power was drained, but nothing happened. I know the portal opened but… nothing! I don't get it!"
Torg reached out and patted his distraught friend on the back, muttering, "There, there, it'll be alright."
If the glitch hadn't been annoying Riff's sensibilities so much he might have hit him, friend or not. Instead, he manfully ignored the scruffy, stupid, plaid clad, aggravating person he had decided to call his friend . It was more important to dedicate all of his considerable intelligence to cracking whatever had gone wrong.
He could always hit him later.
Back to the girls…
"… And that would be my choice. Of course, I know its only wishful thinking."
"My, my! Well that is interesting! I can't wait to see the mayhem that comes of it."
Seeing the glee appear of the face of the girl, who had introduced herself as Anya, Zoe felt a thrill of apprehension rush through her. Somehow, she knew her day had just gotten worse. What happened next, set that belief in stone.
Anya turned away, then spun back around to stare Zoe in the eye. She flinched back. The face in front of her was no longer human – it had morphed into something all veiny and warped, with an expression of unholy delight that made Zoe's blood run cold.
To the boys…
Torg looked up from the web comic he was reading, ('Yuffie the Vampire Slayer'), just in time to see the computer mouse bury itself in the far wall. Riff and Torg both stared at the damage for a long second, then turned to look at one another.
"Grab the guns."
"The ones that don't quite need to be mounted on the Tank before we can use them."
"Riff, did you rename your car again?"
"… Shut up."
Torg sped across the room to where Riff kept the weapons; weapons that would be outlawed in every country on the planet if they knew they existed. Thankfully they didn't, since they had all been created by the deranged genius Riff.
Naturally, both young men enjoyed every chance they got to bring them out for some old fashioned mayhem. Torg rapidly grabbed the biggest guns available, and hastily moved back to the table (after trying to jump over the couch, catching his foot on an edge, and making an impressive crash as he hit the floor) where Riff was still studying the information on the computer monitor.
A certain film buff – such as Riff – may recognise similarities between the guns chosen, and those used in a film filled with face-hugging parasites. But those are trademarked, so we won't mention that.
"So what are we hunting this time? Is this another bunny hunt? Please say it is!"
Torg was practically vibrating on the spot at the thought, and could barely wait for the answer.
"Sorry, but no. This time, we have a real problem. At the exact moment I activated the agitator, something else entered our universe using the power and portal created."
"So, it means we have an uninvited guest from another dimension running around. A guest who's quite probably not human." Seeing Torg's incomprehension, Riff explained more clearly, "It means it is our duty to hunt it down and kill it. For humanity."
"So you're saying… we can shoot it?"
"Yes Torg, we can shoot it."
Zoe watched cautiously as the strange girl-thing got more and more worked up as whatever she was trying to make happen… didn't. She would have interrupted but felt that it might be the prudent time to leave. Unluckily before she could escape Anya re-focussed on her.
"What have you done to me! That should have worked, I should be reaping my reward, the glory for the slaughter, instead I'm still here! I know it worked because I felt the spell activate! What have you done!"
Outrage filled Zoe, squashing her good sense, and she rose to the verbal assault. "Me! Why are you accusing me! I don't even know what's going on! You did… whatever it was . Maybe you're the one that made the mistake! Don't blame me for your own shortcomings!"
Anya looked absolutely gobsmacked at this, and Zoe felt triumph well up and fill her – until she noticed how the other girl's face grew progressively darker and more ugly (which was impressive considering how bad she had appeared to start with), causing the small voice in the back of her mind to finally be heard. Unfortunately, it was too late.
"You dare speak to me like that? I who have been walking the world for over eight centuries, who have sent countless men screaming into the depths of hell, whose name is known throughout the Underverse as someone not to cross. You dare speak to me like this when I was trying to hurt your enemy? I am Anyanka, the vengeance demon, and if I was not compelled to bring pain only to the males of your species, you would truly feel my wrath!"
Spinning on her heel, she began to march off leaving a stunned and shell-shocked Zoe in her wake. However, she had gone only a few paces before she paused and turned back for one last parting shot, "However, since you have been hurt by a male, I shall do you one favour. I will track him down and cause him as much pain as I can; and believe me, he will rue the day he hurt you!"
That said, having put the human in its place, the demoness stalked away.
Zoe simply stood there, frozen in shock, unable to move, unable to think, her mind tumbling with what she had just witnessed, with what had happened to her, and what had almost happened to her.
It was hard to come to terms with it all.
The thoughts just wouldn't settle. It was impossible to say how long she might have stayed there, caught in her confusion, but fate had other ideas.
"There she is! Fire!"
On the hunt…ten minutes previous…
"You sure that gizmo is working right? 'Cause we've been looking for this creature for the last quarter hour with no luck, and these guns are heavy."
Riff tried to ignore the incessant whining as he concentrated on the tracker he had created to detect fluctuations in the stability of space/time, something that a dimensional visitor would have disrupted, allowing him to trace their location. That it wasn't working right was more to do with annoying chatter in his ear than anything technological.
It was a blessing that at that moment, just as Torg opened his mouth to ask the question that might manage to push Riff over his patience limit, that the gadget began to beep. Rather frantically in fact.
The two men exchanged glances, grins blossoming, and charged off in the direction indicated. Ducking and weaving, more for the effect than any real reason, they turned a corner and found themselves staring at a dark haired girl standing stock still in the middle of the path, clothes torn, and a blank look on her face.
It was an honest mistake.
"There she is! Fire!"
On the prowl…
Though the irritation from the spell's ineffectiveness still filled Anyanka, she stayed calm as she moved through the unknown world. She had soon realised that it wasn't her own dimension, nor any she should have access to; not even the one inhabited only by shrimp. Not only was it not her world, it didn't even seem to be her time (the lack of redcoats and flintlocks were a small clue).
If her senses weren't lying to her she had travelled centuries into the future, and judging from the strange apparel the girl had been wearing, it was a future that looked none too comfortable (obviously, she was unaware that her magic had altered her own clothing to blend in with the surroundings. If she had, she might have died from embarrassment).
Where she could normally feel D'Hoffryn's power pulsing in the back of her mind, she was shocked to realise that now she could barely sense it. Wherever this realm existed, it was far from any of the known realities. And if her suspicions were correct, there might not even be a Hellmouth here.
She could only guess that it was the distance from the centre of her demonic power that had stopped the curse from working. However, she had discovered one other unpleasant fact. Though the pendant's power was diminished, when she had verbally accepted the wish, it had bound her to this world until vengeance was extracted. In other words, she couldn't leave until she had tracked down this individual and punished him appropriately – without full use of her magic, more simple techniques would be required. Like her personal favourite, the 'stick with a nail in it' method.
Otherwise, she would be trapped on this dirtball of a planet, with limited power, no others of her kind, and virtually no chance of any others arriving.
So Anya was very determined to find the one known as Bun-Bun.
The smoking girl…and penitent boys…
"Umm, sorry about that. The readings said you were the target and I, well, fired. Easy mistake to make."
Zoe heard the apology but her ability to forgive was inversely proportional to the sheer level of Bad Day she was suffering. Now, on top of the injuries already collected, she was wearing clothes that could charitably be called charred and had a hairstyle that would cause a gorgon to bury its head in shame.
Not to mention the small tendrils of smoke sporadically wafting up from various parts of her body.
Standing there, a evil thought sidled its way into her susceptible mind – At least it can't get any worse. Instantly, on hearing such a blatant thumb at Murphy, it was followed with a horrified, Crap!
The days trend continued when in the next instant a large green alien looking creature burst out of nowhere, tried to eat her, stopped, only to rapidly have to scarper as the boys opened fire (finally) with their oversized blasters. Of course they missed it completely, skilfully managing to give her an even worse hairdo before speeding after it, still firing wildly.
If it hadn't been the middle of the sidewalk, with a very real possibility of something coming across her poor, helpless unconscious body. Statistically speaking, it seemed likely – since so far on the Day of Hell she'd had to deal with a killer bunny rabbit, a dimension jumping demon, dimension jumping demon hunters, and something that could very well have been an alien, and she didn't want to push her luck. Instead she slowly made her way back to her apartment and was somehow able to hold on until she was through the front door then, with a gentle sigh, her eyes rolled up into the back of her head and she passed out cold.
It might have gone better, if she had remembered to close the door after her (but that's not important to this story, so she'll have to deal with it on her own).
Standing before the small house, she double checked that this was where the magical signature seemed to lead, then moved to the door. For a moment she raised her hand to knock, then just reached for the handle, finding to her pleasure that it was unlocked. Happy that she would soon be on her way home, she opened the door and, listening carefully, heard noises coming from somewhere within. Stealthily following the strange sounds, she paused as she noticed a large carving knife perched on a table near the sink, and picked it up with a smile.
It may have been many years since she had last had to physically get her hands dirty, but a girl never forgets. Hefting the blade, and wishing she had worn one of her less liked dresses, she moved to the lounge doorway and listened for a second to make sure she had not been heard. Reassured, she took a deep breath, charged into the room brandishing the knife, and began the swing down to impale the deviant sitting on the couch.
Then she froze. There was no man, as her magic had mistakenly led her to believe. No person at all in fact. Instead, squatting in the middle of the seat was a rabbit.
A white, fluffy bunny (a mini-lop to be precise).
The knife slowly dipped until the hand holding it was hanging back at her side. She couldn't understand it. Her ability to track those she was to punish had never failed her before, yet here it was telling her, screaming at her, that this cute little beastie was Bun-Bun.
"You better have a good reason to interrupt my time. If not, I'm going to do to you what I did to that girl at the park."
Anya blinked. Did she just get threatened. By a rabbit?
"Are you Bun-Bun? I was… told you lived here. I have something for you, if you are."
"Toots, whatever you're selling I'm not interested. Unless… you're offering something special?"
Anya couldn't remember the last time she had been so shocked. Being threatened came as part of the job, but to be propositioned? She was outraged, horrified, and just a little degraded, and without conscious volition her face morphed to show her true self. Her wrinkled lips peeled back showing her uneven teeth, and the knife rose back into the air. Suddenly she felt very much in the mood for a kebab.
Bun-Bun simply looked at the knife, before transferring his gaze to her face. "Big mistake girly, I'm not in the mood to play with you at the moment, my show's about to start."
Anya simply scoffed in response to such a weak statement – however it was a statement that was strengthened considerably when out of seemingly nowhere, he pulled a switchblade.
The mighty hunters…
"I just don't get it, the signal's gotten all mixed up, almost scattered. If I didn't know any better I'd say it hadn't been one entity but an entire group, and that they've separated to all over town. Hell, this is just annoying. I'm going home and fixing this, you coming?"
Torg just nodded in response; firing big guns was always fun, but having to carry the great hulking things everywhere got tiresome real fast. So together, the two weary young men ambled home, one looking forward to a couch and telly, the other to cracking the challenge of the malfunctioning scanner.
Walking through their front door such cheerful thoughts evaporated. The tables, chairs, bookshelves and decorations were strewn around the room in various stages of destruction. Most were so damaged they might as well be kindling, a few fragments still identifiable as furniture. There was not a single piece complete or undamaged. Not one, that was, except in front of the pristine television where a small white shape was licking its fur clean of the disturbingly familiar crimson stains that adorned it.
It took a moment for the boys to realise that the garish red wallpaper hadn't been red when they left, but when they did Riff was unlucky enough to be the one standing just that little bit further from the bathroom; meaning he had to content himself with a nearby plant-pot.
Staggering back to the unharmed lagomorph they stared at him accusingly, only to be tranquilly ignored as the quiet sounds of a tongue delicately lapping continued.
"Bun-Bun, what did you do this time?"
"Some stupid girl with a death wish. She walked in here and attacked me with a knife. Poor thing, with that face no wonder she had nothing to live for. I helped her on her way."
"… I'm almost afraid to ask. What… ?"
"Told you, I sent her packing."
A pain riddled non-corpse…
Sometimes being immortal really sucked.
For the most part it was great. You live forever, never growing any older or gaining any unsightly wrinkles, without any unsightly sagging in places you wish you didn't. Instead you get to spend all of eternity inflicting unusual and horrific punishments on men, and you get to do it with a song in your heart.
And then there were days like this.
Anya was no stranger to pain. In her many centuries of vengeance there had been more than one person who'd had the bright idea to try to kill her before she struck, and they had done their best (or their worst) with swords, axes, and whatever else they could lay their hands on. She had endured it all at one point or another, and her enemies had been repaid in full. Yet in all that time, she had never had to 'live' through being chopped into bloody chunks of quivering flesh by a homicidal bunny (using only a switchblade), and mailed all over the city – it would have been further but he didn't want to waste the money.
In time, she would re-corporealise her form in its entirety. In fact, being diced like this would actually help her, allowing her to slip more easily back to her own dimension (through the cracks in the world), but that didn't stop one thing from being true.
Mind-numbing, soul wracking pain. She would have screamed if her vocal cords were intact. Her mind had many thoughts to distract it, yet it was focussed on a single image – a pair of beady black eyes staring into hers at a distance of mere inches as their owner endeavoured to see how much pain she could take. The memory seemed to be stuck on an eternal loop, the horror worse that anything she had ever inflicted.
Back in her own dimension, back where her magic was strongest, it took only a few short months to reconstitute her body. Alas, her mind took… longer.
Forever thereafter, even the hint of twitching little noses would give her the screaming heebie-jeebies.
Torg looked up at the cry of triumph and saw a much relaxed Riff slouch (coolly, of course) into the room.
"The last of the readings have cleared and the portal seems to have closed, which means she must be gone too, whatever she was. Pity, I would've liked to study her, maybe shoot her a bit. Her regenerative abilities must be astounding."
"Isn't that a good thing?"
Riff raised an eyebrow at his friend.
"The bad guy's gone, the good guys win, and we get to redecorate and buy better stuff. Like a kick-ass new television!"
"But the TV's not broken."
Eyeing his friend's smirk, Riff decided to prod him a little.
"You do realise that Baywatch starts in twenty minutes, and Bun-Bun said he'd be right back."
"… Eeep! Do something!"
Smirking at his friend, Riff shook his head slightly, "You do remember why I built the agitator in the first place, right? It was for… pest control. Unfortunately because of the existence of the rift into her universe, if I opened another portal there's a chance it'll reopen that one and let something else back through. It might just be her, or it might be something worse.
"Sorry mate, we're going to have to find another solution to your problem. How about … magic?"
Author's Note :
I'm sorry it took me so long to post this, but I'm truly terrible at beta'ing my stories. It is absolutely not one of my strengths. That been said, I can't help but feel that this chapter was enjoyable enough to make up for that fact.
It was certainly fun to reread in places.
I would like to send out my heartfelt thanks to Gyrefeather, also known as Gyre on a few other archives, for being the kindest and most patient person alive (for having to sit through my beta'ing) with helping me get this out. It not being on time is my fault.
For those who are wondering, there will be a total of three more chapters in this tale of woe and horror. Not all will be as long as this one, but they should continue to amuse. I only hope you can stand the (too) long wait between postings.
Ta-Ta for now.